Archive for the ‘War’ Category

Months before the United States dropped an Atomic Bomb called “Little Boy” on Hiroshima, Japan, they knew they had a weapon that was more powerful than the world could possibly comprehend. Having an idea of how destructive the bomb would be, the US military dropped leaflets over the city 5-days prior to the bombing as a warning of sorts.  Here’s what a citizen of Hiroshima would have read if he’d bent over to pick up one of these flyers, or perhaps grabbed it as it fluttered from the sky. It was printed in Japanese:

Civilians! Evacuate at once! These leaflets are being dropped to notify you that your city has been listed for destruction by our powerful air force. The bombing will begin within 72-hours. This advance notice will give your military authorities ample time to take necessary defensive measures to protect you from our inevitable attack. Watch and see how powerless they are to protect you. Systematic destruction of city after city will continue as long as you continue to blindly follow your military leaders whose blunders have placed you on the very brink of oblivion. It is your responsibility to overthrow the military government NOW and save what is left of your beautiful country. In the meanwhile, we encourage all civilians to evacuate at once.

Knowing what we know now, a pretty clear warning. Definitely some subtle hints there. “Systematic destruction” and “brink of oblivion” sort of lays it out there. Still, the Japanese had no real way of knowing what type of hell would soon rain down on them.

In addition, one week prior to these leaflets being dropped, President Harry Truman had issued a simple but chilling warning that if Japan did not surrender immediately, it would face “prompt and utter destruction.”

He wasn’t bluffing.

On August 6th, 1945, that’s exactly what happened. Little Boy exploded above Hiroshima, sending out a white flash of light 10-times brighter than the sun. The surrounding air ignited and the sky erupted into a fireball 300-yards wide. The heat on the ground directly below the explosion (it detonated nearly 2,000-feet above ground) reached 6,000 degrees.

Thousands of men, women and children within a 1/2 mile radius were instantly reduced to lumps of charcoal. Then came a shockwave as the blast rolled outward with the force of 16,000 tons of TNT at a speed of 2-miles per second, followed by a cloud rising 50,000 feet into the air, sucking up with it the vaporized remains of possibly 70,000 people.

Nearly every human and building within a 1-mile radius of the explosion simply vanished. Beyond this, burns maimed and disfigured thousands, many who lived miles away.

Not to mention the radiation that would kill people for months and years to come.

So yeah, bad. Nightmarishly bad. Those who stayed simply didn’t heed the warning, for whatever reason. Nobody, outside of a select few, really knew how powerful this new weapon would be, nor could they have possibly imagined. But they were warned, even if they couldn’t comprehend the warning.

Historians still debate whether the use of the bomb was the correct decision, although most agree that it was. Most presidents since then have supported the act and have agreed that tens of thousands of American servicemen’s lives were saved because of it. The bombing of Hiroshima, and a few days later Nagasaki, prevented an invasion of Japan that would have been long and deadly.

Still, over 70-years later, the effects linger and the results of the weapon are still difficult to comprehend. And remember this – today’s bombs are thousands of times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Here’s a pretty good re-enactment of the dropping of the bomb:

 

 

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Perhaps some of you know of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. Shaw was born into a prominent abolitionist family, and because of his beliefs he accepted command of the first all-black Union regiment, the 54th Massachusetts. He actually encouraged his men to refuse their pay until it was equal to the white troops’ wage. Sadly, at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, a beachhead near Charleston, South Carolina, Shaw was killed while leading his men to the parapet of the enemy fort. Although they were overwhelmed and driven back, Shaw’s leadership, as well as the performance of his men, passed into legend and inspired tens of thousands of African-Americans to enlist for the Union and contribute to ultimate victory for the North. Incredibly, before this battle near Charleston most people had serious doubts regarding how blacks would perform under fire.

Anyway, I just finished a book about the Civil War, it told Colonel Shaw’s story in detail, and one part really stood out to me. It seems that after Colonel Shaw’s death, Confederate commander Johnson Hagood not only refused to return Shaw’s body to the North, he ordered it thrown into a mass grave. Hagood’s statement?

We have buried him with the n—–s.

That racist statement actually became a rallying cry for Union troops, and rather than be offended, Shaw’s parents said the following:

“We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers. We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. What a bodyguard he has!”

Awesome.

Note: On a related note, you may have learned about Colonel Shaw in the movie Glory, starring Matthew Broderick. Great movie, but it doesn’t mention Colonel Shaw’s burial or his family’s reaction to it.

The Battle of Gettysburg was the costliest battle of the Civil War, with 51,112 casualties. By comparison, there were 58,220 American deaths during the entire Vietnam War.

 

During the Civil War, Robert E. Lee’s horse Traveller became so famous that his mane and tail became thin from people plucking the hair as souvenirs.

 

Because he was a real person. And he was related to that other, more famous Hitler –  Adolf. You see, William “Willie” Patrick Hitler was Adolf Hitler’s nephew.

Want another mind-blowing fun fact? Hitler’s little nephew served in the United States Navy in World War II.

It’s true. Here’s the story . . .

William “Willie” Patrick Hitler was born to Adolf’s brother, Alois Hitler, Jr. and his wife in Liverpool, England, in 1911. Ironically, the family lived in a flat that was eventually destroyed in the last German air raid of the Liverpool Blitz in January of 1942. Anyway, Willie ended up moving to Germany in 1933 right after Uncle Adolf had risen to power. It seems young Willie was trying to use his uncle’s influence to get a better job. Adolf in fact helped Willie get several jobs, but none stuck.

Then Willie did something that, in retrospect, wasn’t too bright. He began writing to his Uncle Adolf with blackmail threats, saying that he would sell embarrassing stories about the family to the newspapers unless his “personal circumstances” improved. Among these stories was Willie’s allegation that Adolf’s paternal grandfather was a Jewish merchant.

Uh-oh. That didn’t go over well.

Incredibly though, soon after the threats Adolf asked William to relinquish his British citizenship in exchange for a high-ranking job. Willie wasn’t buying it for a second and expected a trap. He bolted Nazi Germany and skedaddled back to London.

As crazy as this sounds now, Willie then wrote an article for Look Magazine. It’s title? “Why I Hate My Uncle.” I’m dead serious right now.

Meanwhile, Uncle Adolf was beginning his quest for world domination in earnest.

As for Willie, he left Germany in early 1939 to visit the United States with his mother. Problem is, a little thing called World War II broke out and they were stranded here. Willie grew to like the place, moved to Queens, New York, and eventually joined the US Navy. He actually had to get special permission from President Franklin Roosevelt because his uncle was, you know, the freaking leader of the Third Reich.

But there’s more. Willie Hitler was wounded in action during the war and given the Purple Heart, awarded to those wounded or killed while serving with the US military. Amazing really.

Here are some other fascinating facts about Willie Hitler:

  • Willie had a brother named Heinz. Heinz, in contrast to William, became a committed Nazi and in 1942 died in Soviet captivity.
  • After being discharged from the Navy, William Hitler changed his surname to Stuart-Houston.
  • Willie married a woman named Phyllis and they had four sons, the first of which they named . . . wait for it . . . Alexander Adolf. Go figure.

Gurkha soldiers.

Ever heard of the Gurkhas? No? Well, here at Shoe: Untied my crack staff is committed to educating our readers on literally everything, from sports to politics to history to asshat parkers. Hey, we’re here for y’all. Just broadening your world horizons if you will.

Here are four stories about Gurkha bravery and courage. Read on, loyal readers, and be amazed . . .

In 1815, the British Army tried to conquer Nepal. However, the Nepal’s Gurkha Warriors had something to say about that, and what they said was “No freaking way, British pansies.” They easily defeated the British. So the British officers decided that, if they couldn’t beat them, they’d get the Gurkhas to join them. A peace agreement ceased all British fighting in Nepal, and the Gurkhas agreed to be recruited into the Crown’s military. Since then, the Gurkhas have fought in several wars, including both world wars and the Falklands War. Known as some of the most skilled and fiercest warriors in the world, the Gurkhas have terrified the bejesus out of everyone around them. Want some examples of Gurkha badassness, you say? You got it, kids. What follows are some of the bravest soldiers and stories to ever come out of the Gurkha ranks.

In 2010 in Afghanistan, Sergeant Dipprasad Pun single-handedly fought off 30 Taliban soldiers. As Pun was keeping guard on the roof of a checkpoint, the attackers came at the complex from all sides with rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47s.

It took less than 60-minutes for Pun to kill them all.

He went through all of his ammo—400-rounds and 17-grenades, as well as a mine that he detonated—to defeat each attacker. A Taliban soldier climbed up to the roof, only to be clubbed over the head with a machine-gun tripod by Pun.

Bad. Ass.

In WWII, Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was stationed in a trench with only two other men when attacked by over 200-Japanese soldiers. Gurung’s comrades were all severely wounded. As grenades flew in one after another, Gurung started throwing them back.

He was successful with the first two, but the third exploded in his right hand. His fingers were blown off and his face, body, and right arm and leg were badly wounded.

As the Japanese stormed the trench, Gurung used his left hand to wield his rifle, killing 31-soldiers and preventing the Japanese from advancing.

Gurung survived.

This photo shows the amazing scale of the incredible US D-Day invasion in France. It was taken three days after the initial landing, on June 9th, 1944. Pretty sure, at this point, Hitler knew we meant business.

dday

Here we have some badass American WWII pilots posing for a casual photo. Wait. Is that a skull? Yes, a Japanese skull.  It was common practice for American soldiers to take body parts as “war souvenirs” and “war trophies”. Teeth and skulls were the most commonly taken, although other body parts were also collected. Yeah, you don’t wanna know. Anyway, look at the youthful, vibrant faces of the All-American boys. Juxtapose that with a dead man’s skull with a helmet on it and you have quite the stunning visual.

japenese_skull_1944

Yeah, you probably know a lot about the evil dictator and leader of the Third hitlerclownReich, but I bet you don’t know everything. However, once again I’m here for you. What follows are some facts about the man who tried to take over the world while exterminating an entire race of people in the process. History and Social Studies teachers, feel free to print this out and use in in the classroom. You’re welcome.

  1. Adolf Hitler was almost known as Adolf Schiklgruber. True story. Alois Schiklgruber made the decision to change his surname from  Schicklgruber to Hitler on January 7, 1877 . Somehow, “Heil Schilkgruber!” wouldn’t have had the same ring to it, man.
  2. I wrote about this the other day (which actually led to this blog) but the Nazi government headed by Hitler led the most powerful anti-smoking campaign in the world during the 1930’s and ’40s.  The German doctors were the first to establish the link between smoking and lung cancer. Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco and his open criticism of tobacco consumption proved a strong motivating factor for the movement because, you know, Hitler could have you murdered and whatnot. It was around 30-years later when the rest of the world caught on.
  3. Medical reports show that Adolf Hitler used cocaine and injected himself  with the extracts of seminal vesicles and the testes of young bulls to bolster his libido. But really, who hasn’t? He also had an uncontrolled flatulence problem, which was probably an issue at meetings with his evil henchmen. Supposedly Hitler used the cocaine to clear his sinuses and soothe his nerves, even though I always thought cocaine wired you up. Hitler, man. What a nitwit.
  4. Hitler was a vegetarian during WWII. Yep, wouldn’t touch meat. And during movies, if there was a scene showing any type of cruelty to animals, he reportedly would cover his eyes and look away until someone said the scene was over.  Isn’t that sort of a funny visual? I mean really?Anyway, in 1937 Hitler stopped eating all meat except liver dumplings, which is just weird. His typical diet consisted of baked potatoes with cottage cheese, spaghetti, oatmeals, stewed fruits and vegetables, an egg, and a box of Fruit Loops. OK, I made up that Fruit Loops part.
  5. Hitler’s plan for Moscow was to exterminate all its inhabitants, level the city, and replace the it with a gigantic artificial lake which would submerge Moscow completely. The huge lake was to be created by opening the sluices of the Moscow-Volga canal. But hey, Hitler loved animals!
  6. Hitler had a collection of thousands of Jewish artifacts that he got from the people headed to concentration camps. He planned to build a museum of Jewish artifacts and call it “Museum of Extinct Race“. How’d that work out for you, Hitler? U-S-A! U-S-A! And Russia of course. They helped.
  7. Hitler’s famous autobiography “Mein Kampf” was originally titled, “My Struggle for Five Years Against Lies, Stupidity and Cowardice”. It was a little wordy and didn’t exactly roll off the tongue, so it was probably a good call. On a related note, I could write a book using that exact same title documenting my years working under a certain idiot superintendent. Boom. I said it.

So there ya go, 7 Things You May Not Know About Adolf Hitler. And really, name one other person who can write about Hitler and throw some humor in as well. You can’t.

PS- I wrote this whole story spelling his name Adolph instead of Adolf before I realized I’d misspelled it. Who does that? I’ve seen his name written a million times. Weird.

 

 

 

My crack staff here at Shoe: Untied recently came across the interesting story of my man Andras Toma, a Hungarian speaking bro who sat in a Russian nuthouse for 53-years because the medical staff there thought he was talking gibberish. True story, and I posted it in our “True Fact o’ the Day” series. Anyhoo, that whole sordid affair got me to thinking. Are there any other leftovers from World War II? With this is mind I put my best researcher, Hansi Rajapakse, on the case. Hansi is a young lass from Sri Lanka who knows her way around the internet like you would not dream. Hansi has a degree from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, which I happen to know is a real place because I looked it up. Anyway, Hansi Rajapakse? Good. But enough about that little tech geek.

On to her findings, which are actually quite fascinating. Let us proceed . . .

FANTA

Wait. What? The soft drink? Yes, that one. This pop made by The Coca-Cola fanta_12Company originated in Nazi Germany in 1941.  When Germany could no longer import Coca-Cola syrup from the USA due to the wartime trade embargo, the head of Coca-Cola Deutschland created a new product for the German market using only ingredients left over from German food production at the time.  Then, after the war, the Coca Cola Corporation regained control of the plant, formula and the trademarks to the new Fanta product. That’s wild, man.

 

ANTI-SMOKING CAMPAIGN

german_anti-smoking_adCool factoid: German doctors were the first to identify the link between smoking and lung cancer, and it was Nazi Germany which led the first public anti-smoking campaign in modern history.  The Nazi regime conducted much research on the effects of smoking on health and introduced measures such as banning smoking on public transport, regulating it in public places, raising tobacco taxes, and imposing restrictions on tobacco advertising.  It also coined the term “passive smoking”. Germany’s anti-tobacco campaign was driven by Adolf Hitler’s personal distaste for tobacco.  He had been a heavy smoker in his early life (smoking 25-40 cigarettes daily) but gave up the habit. The German anti-smoking campaign collapsed along with the Third Reich in 1945 when American cigarette manufacturers quickly entered the German black market.  Later, as part of the Marshall Plan, the US sent tobacco to Germany free of charge.

THE WRECK OF THE USS ARIZONA IS STILL LEAKING OIL INTO PEARL HARBOR

uss-arizonaAt the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 the USS Arizona was fully loaded with nearly 1.5 million gallons of fuel in preparation for a scheduled trip from its base in Hawaii to the mainland.  It obviously never made the trip, being destroyed the next day in the surprise attack by bombers from the Japanese Navy.  Despite the fires fed by the oil that infamous day, around 500,000 gallons still lingers in the ship’s submerged wreckage. Over 70-years later it is still seeping out into the harbor at a rate of 9-quarts per day.  Despite environmental concerns, US government agencies are reluctant to perform extensive repairs to the Arizona due to it being classified as a war grave.  The oil that still coats the surface of the water surrounding the ship is referred to as the “Tears of the Arizona.” Sad, man.

PURPLE HEARTS MADE FOR WWII SOLDIERS ARE STILL BEING USED TODAY

In early 1945 the US government, anticipating a land invasion of Japan, heartordered a surge in the production of Purple Heart medals to cope with the mass casualties expected all the way through 1947.  Over 1.5 million were produced for the war effort during WWII.  The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent Japanese surrender meant that they weren’t needed by that generation of soldiers – they were issued instead to their sons, grandsons and great-grandsons in the wars which followed in Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. That’s good I guess?

ONE OF ABBA’S LEAD SINGERS

frida_lyngstad_3Here’s a good one. Musical group ABBA’s Frida Lyngstad was one of thousands of children who grew up in Scandinavia shunned and persecuted as  “German children”, because they were the offspring of Norwegian mothers and occupying German soldier fathers. Frida was born in a small village in northern Norway in November 1945, the result of a liaison between her mother, Synni, and a German named Alfred Haase.  Frida’s mother and grandmother were branded as traitors by their community and were forced to moved to Sweden in 1947, where Frida’s mother died of kidney failure a short time later. Frida was brought up by her grandmother in Sweden believing that her father had died during the war on his way back to Germany as his ship was reported to have sunk.  However, at the height of ABBA’s fame in 1977 a German teen magazine published Frida’s complete biography, where it was seen by her half-brother, Peter Haase, who asked his father if he had been in Frida’s village during the war.  A few months later, Frida met her father in Stockholm for the first time. Crazy story.

THE FOREST SWASTIKA

For a few weeks every year in autumn and spring, the leaves on a patch of forest-swastikaLarch trees within a pine forest in Brandenburg, northeastern Germany would change color.  The yellow larch leaves would contrast with the deep green of the pines and create the distinct shape of a swastika.  The “Forest Swastika” went largely unnoticed until 1992, when the reunified German government ordered aerial surveys of all state-owned land.  It is thought a forester may have invited local Hitler Youth members to plant the trees in commemoration of Adolf Hitler’s birthday.  Authorities, concerned that the site might become a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis, eventually obscured the design in 2000 with the felling of a number of the Larch trees.

So there ya go. If you enjoyed this you can thank Hansi in the comments section.

The last WW2 POW to be repatriated was a Hungarian soldier named Andras Toma who sat in a Russian mental hospital for 53-years before a linguist realized that he wasn’t actually talking gibberish.

 

andras-toma

Man, this is good stuff.

ww2

The man who led the attack on Pearl Harbor became a Christian evangelist after the war and settled in the US.

mitsuofuchida

Between 40,000 and 80,000 killed.

nagasaki_1945_-_before_and_after_adjusted

The Bombing of Kobe in World War II took place on March 16 and 17, 1945. It was part of the strategic bombing campaign waged by the United States against military and civilian targets and also population centers during the Japan home islands campaign in the closing stages of World War II. On a related note, that’s a whole lotta bombs.

bombing

The nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll was a series of 23 nuclear devices that were detonated by the United States between 1946 to 1958. Wild, man.

bomb

‘Merica!

Hitler and Speer stare mesmerized by the Schwerer Gustav. It was the largest-calibre rifled weapon ever used in combat, the heaviest mobile artillery piece ever built in terms of overall weight, and fired the heaviest shells of any artillery piece in history. The photo was taken in 1941. On a related note, it wasn’t enough. We still kicked his ass.

04-rare-history-photos-amazing-machine1

There 'tis. See the antennae?

There ’tis. See the antennae?

Did you know there are practically no protocols in place to prevent a sitting US president from unilaterally ordering a nuclear strike?

It’s true.

The idea is that America’s nuclear arsenal must be equipped for fast deployment to properly deter an attack. The president must therefore have the ability to launch a strike quickly and without delay. The Secretary of Defense is required to verify the order, but cannot legally veto it.

As then-Vice President Dick Cheney in 2008:

“The president could launch a kind of devastating attack the world’s never seen. He doesn’t have to check with anybody. He doesn’t have to call the Congress. He doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in.”

Chilling, really.

You see, the President is always accompanied by a military aide carrying a ” Nuclear Football” with launch codes for nuclear weapons. The football is a metal briefcase carried in a black leather jacket. The package weighs around 45-pounds. A small antenna protrudes from the bag near the handle. You can see it in the photo up top.

However, there is a scenario that would allow the Secretary of Defense to refuse to relay the order and use his codes to launch –  theoretically, he could make a quick call to the Cabinet and Congress and report that the President had gone bonkers. The Cabinet could then declare the President unfit in a letter to Congress.

Slim chance that would happen, though, so there’s that.

Anyway, food for thought, huh?